My skin loves moisture.
It embraces rainy days, the high humidity of New York summers and my weekly visit to the steam room after a good workout.
If I could live on a beach somewhere in Southeast Asia, my skin would forever glow with happiness. However, I live in Brooklyn, where the winters are long and cold and the sun sets at 4:30 p.m. For someone who suffers from psoriasis, it can be a challenge to maintain clear skin when covering it with layers upon layers of clothing — drying it up and making it itchy. There is nothing more frustrating and, quite frankly, scary than finding a couple of new dry, red patches on my legs. I end up wondering if these patches may be a precursor to something much bigger — like one of those epic breakouts that cover 90 percent of the body within 48 hours and take months to cure… my worst nightmare since I’ve lived through it once before.
Never again I told myself, never again!
So, when the northern winds blow into the city and dump a blanket of snow, I come armed and ready for the battle. Here are five weapons I use to combat dry, scaly and patchy skin to keep my psoriasis under control.
1. Drink lots (and lots!) of water
It’s easy to forget about hydration when your schedule is packed to the gills. Sometimes I can go hours without a drop of water until I eventually end up with a headache. Not good! The best way to stay on track is to keep a big 750-milliliter bottle of water nearby at all times. It’s a simple trick that works like a charm because it’s always in my field of vision and only needs to be refilled once or twice throughout the day.
2. Take vitamin supplements
Since psoriasis is an abnormality in the function of the immune system, it’s important to keep the core of your body strong and healthy. Ten minutes of sun exposure is recommended to get your daily intake of vitamin D, but that can be difficult to accomplish when it’s freezing cold and gray outside. Taking vitamin D supplements may help you get a boost in nutrients that can, in turn, slow down skin cell growth and make the plaques less scaly (speak to your doctor before beginning a supplement regimen, especially if you are taking medication).
3. Use a rich, moisturizing body lotion
Dry, itchy legs and arms are never a fun thing! I find that moisturizing my entire body, especially in the winter, dramatically improves the way my skin looks and feels. I apply it as soon as I get out of the shower to lock in as much moisture as possible (when pores are most opened), and I reapply a little on my arms and legs before bedtime to prevent an itchy outbreak.
4. Eat foods that are high in nutrients and have anti-inflammatory properties
Clean eating has been proven to greatly help ease symptoms of psoriasis. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory ingredients (such as nuts, leafy greens, salmon, berries and turmeric) minimizes flare-ups, while eating lots of fruits and vegetables keeps the body hydrated. Avoid fried foods, dairy, gluten and foods that are high in fats whenever you can. If eating lots of fruits and vegetables isn’t your thing, try drinking a smoothie every morning — it’s the easiest and fastest way to ingest your A, B and C!
5. Take it easy on the booze
Alcohol can dry out the skin so badly, especially if you don’t stay hydrated while drinking. Flaky, dull-looking skin combined with a hangover and an upset stomach are all huge no-nos for psoriasis sufferers. Winter brings harsh elements to your skin, so it’s important to be that much more careful and attentive to it. Allow yourself a glass of wine occasionally and try not to indulge too often.
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